Coaching meeting

Oh, how I love our Alaskan TPRS group. Martina had us over for chicken chili and coaching. The group was all the TPRS experts  (that means having done TPRS for at least a year), all of whom have the needs of their students uppermost in their minds. It’s so rewarding to exchange stories with a group of teachers who want only to keep improving in their profession, and who are willing to give up time on a First Friday to do so.

No one was looking like being coached was critical to their evening, so because I have been having those story troubles, I got up to do Ben’s Anna story about the kid who wants to go far away to see his girlfriend and keeps borrowing and crashing various vehicles that his dad loans him. I am relieved to say that, at least in a supportive and strong linguistic group, I have not totally lost my storytelling ability. On the other hand, I didn’t circle, so people still needed to hear those new structures afterward. I should have had someone counting my reps!! Or I should have done more PQA in the beginning to assure the reps. 

One of the things I noticed was that I can now do a more complete story in Russian because this group has had enough mini lessons in Russian that they have some vocabulary! I don’t have to repeat “says,” “loves,” “goes,” “wants,” or yes/no/and/or. That is a huge help when we’re wanting to try out new stuff. So I tried more verbs of motion on them. Once we finished telling, I wrote the first paragraph up (partly to give some more reps).

After we were done, someone said that she gets into ruts, so what more can you do after a story. Betsy demonstrated how you can ask partners to help each other recall the story. She sat with her back to the paragraph and Allison prompted her when she couldn’t remember a phrase, correcting her at times. She said the reading partner gets more input that way; it isn’t really as much a learning exercise for the speaker (though they’ll think it is) as it is for the reader. When they switch roles, the new reader gets the input. 

Betsy follows that with using only the drawings for the story. Both students have to tell based on the drawing, but only one gets to look.

Another interesting idea for story assessment that came up was to put two boxes on the bottom of a quiz after six or eight questions. In the boxes, students are to draw their two favorite parts of the story. Then they turn to a partner and tell that part of the story. I think it was Eugenia who said that then the kids are suddenly bursting with Spanish in her class. They own that part of the story, and they have the words to tell it.

Allison and Cara are going to send notes, so I can share a little more later of what I’ve forgotten. But there was one other set of ideas–how to help kids embroider more: Cara said that for oral assessment, she takes only a few of the kids’ six-square drawings of a story out into the hall to post, and then when kids come out, they are to tell her only three of the squares on that drawing. Often she will stop them when they’ve only told her one square, because she’s heard enough to assess. 

Others were suggesting that for those concrete-thinking kids who don’t know when they could add anything to a story, we draw a story-board that has a blank or two, whether in the middle or at the end, to encourage kids to come up with their own ideas. 

So many ideas, such wonderful people. I am blessed! 

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